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LECOM’s National Economic Impact Approaching $600 million

Nation’s largest medical college serves as ‘anchor’ in its communities through job creation, generation of tax revenues, and construction and renovation projects

Erie’s Academic Health Center, led by the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), is not only a highly innovative medical education system that includes the nation’s largest medical college by enrollment, it is a catalyst for economic growth nationally and in the states and communities that host its campuses.

In 2013, LECOM’s national economic impact was more than $593 million, an increase of 80 percent compared with the College’s national economic impact of $328.8 million in 2009, according to a comprehensive study conducted by Tripp Umbach, a nationally recognized consulting firm. In addition, since Tripp Umbach’s last study of LECOM, in 2009, the College’s economic impacts have increased by more than 63 percent in Pennsylvania (from $225.4 million to $368.6 million) and by 168 percent in Florida (from $59.9 million to $160.8 million)

“A widely held misconception among business leaders, elected officials, and the general public is that entities such as non-profit medical colleges and hospitals don’t generate revenue for local governments or contribute to their communities,” Tripp Umbach noted in the current study. “LECOM serves as an important anchor in its communities by virtue of creating jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues. LECOM’s total impact has nearly doubled in just five years, even though the College receives little to no state and federal support.”

The dramatic growth in LECOM’s impact is largely due to a number of factors, including steady growth in academic programs, enrollment, and number of employees as well as significant new construction and renovation projects. In addition, LECOM’s 3,800 Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and 1,300 Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) graduates are generating more than $7.37 billion in economic activity and support or employ more than 49,000 workers. LECOM graduates working mainly in primary care annually contribute to $684 million in healthcare cost savings by assisting with preventive care practices.

Tripp Umbach’s study included LECOM’s main campus in Erie and its campuses in Greensburg, Pa., and Bradenton, Fla. In addition to the campuses, the study also examined related entities such as Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH), the Clinical Practices of LECOM, the John M. and Silvia Ferretti Medical Fitness and Wellness Center in Erie and the LECOM Senior Living Center, scheduled for completion in the summer of 2015.

Key findings of the study

  • LECOM sustains nearly 2,300 jobs nationally, including nearly 1,600 in the greater Erie area that are the result of the operations of LECOM and Millcreek Community Hospital. Jobs in the greater Erie area attributable to LECOM and MCH on average pay nearly $12,000 more than other jobs locally. “Since LECOM last commissioned an economic impact study, in 2009, significant progress has been made in expanding Millcreek Health System in cooperative projects with LECOM, Millcreek Community Hospital, and Millcreek Manor,” said Michael J. Visnosky, Chairman of the LECOM Board of Trustees. “LECOM has completed a number of significant capital projects which have created additional employment opportunities and construction jobs.”
  • In 2013, LECOM’s economic impact on Pennsylvania, $368.6 million, exceeded the College’s national economic impact in 2009 ($328.8 million). The College’s impact in Pennsylvania represents a 63 percent increase since Tripp Umbach’s 2009 study.
  • In 2013, LECOM had an economic impact of $185.3 million on the greater Erie area, an increase of 36 percent compared with the College’s impact of $136.2 million in 2009. Adjacent to its Erie campus, LECOM is making major renovations to part of the former LORD Corp. property to create a Dental Group Practice that will offer affordable dental care for patients who have a difficult time receiving treatments elsewhere.
  • LECOM’s campus at Seton Hill University in Greensburg in 2013 had an economic impact of more than $17 million on Westmoreland County. This figure represents an increase of more than 146 percent from LECOM at Seton Hill’s $6.9 million impact in 2009. In addition, the Seton Hill campus supports and sustains nearly 50 direct and indirect jobs in Westmoreland County.
  • LECOM’s economic impact on the state of Florida also has grown considerably. The College supports and sustains nearly 300 direct and indirect jobs, an increase of 80 percent relative to 2009. In addition to the $3.6 million in government revenue LECOM-Bradenton generated in 2013, the College is establishing a dental group practice in the Florida Panhandle town of DeFuniak Springs to provide affordable care.
  • LECOM’s economic impact on the Bradenton area has more than doubled since 2009, increasing from $42.7 million to $90.9 million last year. Since 2009, the College has invested more than $35 million in construction and facilities renovations at the Bradenton campus.
  • The jobs created in the greater Bradenton area as the result of LECOM’s operations pay $32,000 more annually as compared to other jobs in the area.
  • Pennsylvania government revenues attributable to LECOM grew from $4.6 million in 2009 to $8.4 million in 2013, while local governments in Erie and Greensburg received $6.7 million and $431,800, respectively, in 2013.  Greater Bradenton area governments saw their revenue triple, with LECOM-Bradenton contributing $3.6 million last year.
  • Beyond jobs and tax revenues, LECOM also creates additional community benefits such as uncompensated hospital and physician care for those who can’t afford it, charitable contributions, and volunteer services that amount to more than $2.6 million annually.
  • Construction projects, such as the expansion of the main LECOM campus to include property purchased from LORD Corporation, Eastside Medical Center and a new entrance on the north side of the Erie campus, produced $55 million in total impact and supported nearly 600 jobs. Bradenton saw a similar impact of nearly $55 million, resulting in part from the construction of a new, state-of-the-art facility for the School of Dental Medicine. Overall, LECOM projects in the Bradenton area supported nearly 400 additional jobs over five years.

More about the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM)

LECOM is the nation’s largest medical college and with Millcreek Community Hospital and the Clinical Practices of Erie forms the only osteopathic Academic Health Center in the United States. LECOM is at the core of this highly innovative medical education system and strives to add to the quality of life of its neighbors by bringing total health care to the community. LECOM is preparing the next generation of physicians, dentists, and pharmacists.

More about Tripp Umbach

Tripp Umbach is a nationally recognized consulting firm offering comprehensive services that include research, strategic planning, and economic impact analyses for medical schools, hospitals, nonprofits, communities, and corporations nationally and internationally. The firm has conducted more than 250 such economic impact studies.